Republican Party chairman Michael Steele
Steele has not lived a born-into-money story. He was adopted as an infant, and his mother was from a share-cropping family. His new father died when he was only 4 years old. His mother worked at low-wage jobs and refused public assistance, raising her children alone until she remarried.
He attended Catholic seminary school, intending to become a priest, but he left school before being ordained. He went from that to law school, and later passed the Maryland bar. He was a corporate lawyer for 6 years, and then formed his own consulting group.
Along the way, he joined the Republican Party and worked with local party committees. He worked on campaigns and served as a delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention.
In 2002, Robert Erlich was running for governor of Maryland, and he tapped Steele to be his running mate and lieutenant governor. The pair won, even though Maryland had not had a Republican governor in 40 years.
He ran unsuccessfully for senator from Maryland in 2006, but he won a bigger election later--that of RNC chairman. But his turn in the job has been volatile.
A spat with Rush Limbaugh led to criticism, but Steele was right when he said that Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party. Limbaugh is a prominent Republican and conservative, but he is not the elected RNC chairman, as Steele is.
Other criticisms have come at Steele about his comments on abortion, but he is also right there: abortion is a states' rights issue. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, Republicans could take action at the state level to make abortion illegal in their states. States regulate all other medical practices, yet abortion is the exception.
I admire Steele for speaking his mind. I don't think he could garner everyone's support no matter what he does or says, which is typical for anyone in a prominent political position.
I also admire his background. His is a truly American story--he did not come from privilege, and he has made a good life for himself. So whether or not you agree with his political views, let's be glad that his story is possible in this great country.
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